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Essay on Socioeconomic Roots of the International Drug Trade

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What are drug cartels? Drug cartels are commonly known as criminal organizations that have the intention of supplying drugs illegally and trafficking them to other countries, states, and cities. This discourse will examine the root causes of drug cartels in Mexico City, a city that is commonly known as violent due to the monumental drug cartels being located in different parts of it. First of all, let it be known that the headman of Mexico’s first cartel to sit in an American prison facility was not even Mexican at all. In fact, the kingpin of the first drug cartel in Mexico City is known as no other than Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros who was credited with being the heart of the cocaine eruption that took place in the 1970s and in the 1980s as well.

Around these years, the drug known as cocaine was spreading across America rapidly and the word even got to the ghettos but in the form of “crack”. These drugs eventually got into the United States and when they did, the U.S. citizens were the ones who spread the word and even got it out to the biggest number of consumers since neither the Mexicans nor the Colombians had any way of getting into white suburban America. Due to the eruption of the “nose candy” in America, an act called the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act was passed in the year 1914 by the 63rd United States congress which called for the banishing of cocaine in the U.S. Correspondingly, some individuals disliked and disagreed with the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act that was passed which therefore caused a lot of smugglers to discreetly continue to bring the drug to the consumers that were attached to it and were begging for more. Because of all the talk and hype about cocaine in America, the dealers saw it as an opportunity to sell the drug for an insanely high price especially to their customers because it was illegal, meaning they were the only ones who could supply it since they would bring it from Mexico. Because the money they made was considered “drug money”, overlord Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros found a way to get the money back to the bandits in Medellin. By the early 1980s, there was a loose confederation of drug traffickers in the state of Colombia’s second-largest city, that being Medellin. Now Medellin had merged into something that would eventually be known as the Medellin Cartel which included drug lords like Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder, etc.[footnoteRef:0] Later on, the gangsters of Medellin quickly became one the affluent criminals on the planet. All the drug money the traffickers were making by illegally selling crystal to individuals in the U.S. made them conceivably become one of the first drug smuggling billionaires in the narcotics business. The cocaine market was through the roof and once billions of dollars of cocaine money hit Mexico, it was no surprise that the drug trafficking would become bigger plus bloodier, due to the violence, than anybody could have ever imagined.[footnoteRef:1] [0: ] [1: ]

The drug cartels in Mexico City still continued in 2006 when President Felipe Calderon took office and a dangerous war with the drug cartels rose.[footnoteRef:2] A former Mexican Judicial Federal Police agent, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, had launched the very first Mexican cartel along with his partner Pablo Escobar, a Colombian cocaine trafficker, in Guadalajara in the year 1980. Felix Gallardo along with other of his peers started out just as a smuggling service until they demanded to get full partnership[footnoteRef:3] in the cartel and later became one of the greatest drug lords to be known. Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was arrested in the year 1989 but that did not stop him from continuing his business. Although Felix Gallardo was incarcerated, he resumed coordinating the trafficking of his drugs up until he was uprooted to Altiplano, what used to be known as well as the Centro Federal de Readaptacion Social Numero 1, in the state of Mexico in the 1990s.[footnoteRef:4] The drug cartels in Mexico City had started off by selling marijuana and then later turned to selling cocaine as well which resulted in the cartels getting involved in crucial crimes such as kidnappings (mainly young women) and extortion to smuggling illegal drug profits into the United States along with trafficking illicit immigrants. All of their actions brought attention to the U.S. government which caused them to set out a warrant for the traffickers’ arrest. This terrified Pablo Escobar because he did not want to be deported to the U.S to face drug- trafficking charges, so instead he decided to declare war on the Colombian State because he went by the slogan they created which was, “Better a grave in Colombia than a prison cell in the U.S”. Pablo Escobar was now engaged in a merciless war of attenuation with the government of Colombia which caused the Cali Cartel to assume that the greater importance was to facilitate the delivery of cocaine to the U.S from South America.[footnoteRef:5] [2: ] [3: ] [4:] [5:]

Furthermore, another former drug lord to be known as Juan Garcia Abrego started out his criminal profession by daily taking over and running his uncle, Juan Guerra, organization in the year of 1987. While Escobar was occupied with the war he had declared, Garcia Abrego was determined to do business with the Cali Cartel. When the Cali Cartel agreed to become part of Abregos’ operation, his illicit establishment was believed to be moving somewhere with forty tons of cocaine in the neighborhood and into the United States annually by the year 1989. Juan Garcia Abrego was able to expand his enterprise by purchasing large ranches that were South of Matamoros, Tamaulipas where planes from Colombia that were loaded with stardust could be able to land. These planes would smuggle this type of narcotics from Matamoros, Tamaulipas to Brownsville, Texas to Houston, Texas, and then to the distribution hubs that were to be located in Los Angeles and New York City. In the south of the border, the Gulf Cartel was expanding from the border towns of Tamaulipas, Reynosa, and as well as Nuevo Leon to the state capital of Ciudad Victoria and also the port of Tampico. The spread of drug trafficking organizations that was occurring in the borders, had marked the borders to become unsafe and deadly.[footnoteRef:6] [6:]

With that being said, these activities have claimed Mexico to be one of the greatest threats of drug trafficking to the United States since they have drug distributors in at least two hundred and thirty U.S. cities.[footnoteRef:7] Drug cartels not only consist of trafficking illegal drugs but as well as other illegal activities such as trafficking immigrants, weapons, illegal profits, and kidnapping. These illicit activities mainly occur in Mexico City since it is where the growing power started and still stands today.[footnoteRef:8] Due to all of these drug scandals, it has created a war between the U.S. Department of Defense and the cartels as former president Ronald Reagan once put it as, “Now we are in another war for our freedom” in 1986.[footnoteRef:9] What former president Ronald Reagan meant by his use of the words “another war for our freedom “ is that innocent people and children have to live in fear for their lives and the lives of their family and friends because they have to be on the lookout just in case the drug dealers try to do any harm to them. Drug violence has taken away children’s childhood, and has cost people their very own lives such as law enforcement officials, journalists, devious officials, informants, etc.[footnoteRef:10] [7: ] [8: ] [9: ] [10: ]

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The drug cartels have cost many individuals their lives as well as family separation. When this got the former president’s attention, he had no choice but to declare war against the drug cartels that were taking place in his city, Mexico City, because they were causing too much trouble plus these dealers were performing illegal activities. Former president, Felipe Calderon, declared war on the cartels by having the military soldiers go out onto the streets to wipe out any drug trade that was occurring. The violence not only affected Mexico City but also the United States since the ferocity had spread to the United States as well.

The military raiding the streets for illegal drug commerce, caused some drug organizations to move from Mexico for safety taking the system of these cartels with them including the violence. For example, in the year 2002, an institution called, Los Palillos, which used to work for the Arrellano Felix organization moved to another part of Mexico City that is known as Tijuana and then proceeded to San Diego to hide from Calderon’s military soldiers. This institution not only moved to San Diego for their safety but also brought with them the violence of the drug cartels including the kidnappings, the killings, dissolving the dead bodies with acid, etc. Los Palillos has not been the only organization to relocate its cartels, in fact, many other drug institutions have risen and grown rapidly. New drug organizations have taken up the role of drug dealers as there are leadership positions to be filled since there had been changes in political protection, more killings and arrests, and the loyalty of allies faded.[footnoteRef:11] The new groups have been recruiting individuals from other drug organizations which caused threats to the other drug cartels. For example, a new organization from central Mexico known as the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, also known as CJNG, has risen as well as expanded rapidly which has made them a threat to another big cartel known as the Sinaloa since they had been losing a lot of their crew members to this new cartel. The Sinaloa cartel losing their comrades to the CJNG organization gave the traffickers no choice but to flip and become allies. [11: ]

In addition to The Sinaloa Cartel becoming so-called allies with the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, they both have become two of the biggest drug cartels to be known thus far. With these two drug cartels becoming allies, it meant there was about to be a huge change in the world, and not for the greater good. By both of these corporations becoming well known, it meant more violence was yet to come because now there were more than enough members to commit the crimes like kidnappings, killings, etc. About fifty-five thousand of Mexico’s organized crimes are mainly due to narcotic relations according to Mexican researchers who have been tracking the drug violence very closely in the city of Mexico.[footnoteRef:12] The violence that took place back then and is still occurring today impacted Mexico in a way that was not that good plus it meant the war between drugs had only gotten worse because now there are billions of individuals who are combating these drug traffickers in Mexico City and in the United States as well. As stated before, the bloodshed and violence in Mexico have spread into different parts of the U.S. which has resulted in better and more security at the borders. Making sure that security at the border between Mexico and the U.S was tight, meant that there was a prodigious hiring push in Border Patrol and National Guard troops to go work at any border that connected to Mexico because it has been reported that the drug traffickers have increased their attacks on U.S border patrol agents.[footnoteRef:13] Due to the drug trade getting out of hand and expanding, the United States and Central America decided to partner up with Mexico City to go after the drug contrabands while giving Mexico 2.3 billion dollars aside as part of their agreement for its public safety and security.[footnoteRef:14] To ensure the safety of their people, former president, Ronald Reagon, had successfully passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in the year 1986. This act that was passed meant that the executive branch will have to certify the countries that have been getting assistance from the U.S. making sure that they are fully cooperating with the anti-narcotics policy in the US and not going against it or getting involved in any way. This drug war has been going on for years and years now and it never seems like it is coming to an end. The more people crave narcotics, the more individuals are going to supply them meaning it is going to be difficult to get the drugs off the streets. [12:] [13: ] [14: ]

Furthermore, not only are all of these dealings affecting the United States and Mexico City but also other countries, cities, and states. These drug cartels have relocated many times and have used violence to take over communities for their own necessities. Dealers have threatened and forced families to leave their colonies and their homes for their own use of drug production as well as using abandoned places like buildings, houses, storages, clubs, etc.[footnoteRef:15] Because of this, farmers were not able to support themselves or their families so they decided to join the drug market. The farmers noticed that they could make a lot more money which will be enough to help them get back on their feet by growing marijuana on their farms. For the farmers, the only way to survive on their land was to join the business even though it was bad. In addition, the kidnappings are mainly targeted at females because they are mainly used as a source to produce drugs. These dealers have the females either dressed in bikinis or just fully naked while constructing the narcotics to make sure that they are not hiding or stealing the supply they are making. To traffick drugs into other cities, countries, or states without getting caught themselves, they prefer women to do the job over males, especially if they are pregnant, because they do not look as suspicious as men usually do. Pregnant women are preferable to use as a tool for human drug trafficking because since they are gravid plus the dealers make them swallow the drug bullets, security or medical attendees can not perform x-rays on them since it could harm their baby, making it easier for them to transport the illegal narcotics. This is another method the drug dealers picked up when they were running out of ideas on how to get the drugs to other cartels without any holdbacks from the police or military checking vehicles that cross the border. This job was not as easy as it may sound or look because the individuals who decide to take part in this type of action are putting their lives at stake and the lives of their family members as well. Moreover, this causes more violence, especially towards the mules, because if something goes wrong or the mission is not complete, the cartels go after the mule and the mule family causing additional ferocity in the community. These drug cartels have to get created on finding a way to transport their supply to other cartels without getting exposed by border patrols or any other type of law enforcement. Because these cartels have been around for so many years now causing trouble and a lot of violence which brings themselves to the attention of the president(s) and to the attention of many law officials, many individuals have gotten to know their ways and how to spot the dealers out on the streets making it easy to stop and/or uncover. All of these activities have their own consequences and the main outcome is that it has built fear and brutality within the community/city and its people. In addition, when individuals, like journalists, try to write about these cartels to inform others about their illicit acts, they usually end up dead or get kidnapped. Most of the reporters end up deceased because the cartel leaders send an army of gang members to assassinate them to get rid of any disclosure that contains information about their unlawful businesses. Any bit of documentation that in some way unveiled specific details or just anything regarding the cartel’s wrongdoings, was used as an excuse to create more savagery by going after the people who documented it. In the event that law officials and presidents have tried to cease drug trafficking, they just made it worse. In my opinion, by them trying to put an end to these negotiations, they aggravated the situation in the way that it got more individuals to join the business. Most of the Mexican drug cartels can trace their roots back to the countryside of the state of Sinaloa because ever since they banned the narcotics and declared a drug war, more cartels have risen thereafter the influence of the first Mexican cartels being The Sinaloa Cartel and the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación. [15: ]

To conclude, the reason for the cartels in Mexico City is due to the prohibition of drugs in Mexico and in the United States because it did not stop people from supplying narcotics but did make them smuggle them into places illegally. With that being said, it sums up the answer to my research question which stated, “What is the root cause of drug cartels in Mexico?”. What I believe was achieved in this extended essay was a good understanding of what caused the first cartel to occur as well as why more and more cartels rose. In addition, this essay gives a brief interpretation of what kind of trouble and crimes these organizations have committed and the effect they had on their community. This paper provides good examples that may help the reader gain a better understanding of the violence that has been issued by these drug lords and their different ways of trafficking drugs illegally into other places. A question that hasn’t been resolved is, When are these cartels going to end?

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